The 10 competencies of a successful salesman and how to inculcate them through training / elearning interventions

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The best sales teams are a lot like great schools: They care about results, but the way they achieve them is by being relentless about developing the inside sales skills of their reps. In fact, the best sales teams are most often led by someone who is more like a sales coach than a sales manager. This dedication to developing inside sales skills ultimately creates a sales team that not only hits its short-term goals, but instills a culture of learning and self-improvement in order to achieve its long-term goals as well.

But it’s not always so easy , without sharpening their skills. We know how important this process is, though, so we boiled everything down with few competencies & skills required for every successful sales person to master as ever always.

  1. Passion
    Exhibiting passionate intensity in work life; describing job, role, work and company to others; translating to customers an infectious enthusiasm for the solution/product; leaving impression in language, tone and behavior; presenting professional content in a zealous and passionate way; exhibiting high spirits in situations where others are downcast or negative
  2. Tenacity
    Sticking to a plan; not being distracted by noise and friction; establishing reputation for being tenacious; thinking creatively to avoid obstacles; overcoming adversity; managing goals relentlessly
  3. Assertiveness
    Showing initiative; exploiting openings in sales campaigns; asking difficult questions; getting sales rep agenda items to be adopted as customer priorities; leading groups; sharing strong opinions with peers and managers
  4. Persuasion
    Using language and other communication skills to influence business partners and customers to do what the individual wants them to do; convincing peers of the merits of their point of view; managing up; utilizing give-get frameworks; presenting to general audiences, industry thought leaders, and business partners; presenting company value proposition and solution business cases
  5. Sales Approach
    Handling different sales scenarios; setting agenda; using Call Plans; following sales process guidance and tool usage; adopting best practices; serving as a sales role model to others; thought-leading customers
  6. Objection Handling
    Planning and assessing level of objection risk; achieving success in sales campaigns when obstacles are presented from customers, due to competitive pressure, prices restrictions, or unforeseen external challenges; following corporate objection handling guidelines; advancing sales campaigns by handling objections
  7. Negotiating
    Demonstrating use of give-get framework; developing innovative win-win solutions to deal-killing challenges; demonstrating best practices to uncover company-viable solution options from the client’s view; guiding customers in viewing a situation from more than their own parochial interest; developing solutions that leave all parties with a sense of deal satisfaction; building trust through multiple communication methods; dealing with and managing negotiations independently
  8. Closing Ability
    Winning sales campaigns after they have progressed past Needs Development; closing late stage deals; developing reasons for prospects to act; overcoming late stage deal obstacles; winning confidence and support of late stage new entrants to the sales campaign; experiencing late stage delay
  9. Strategic Skills
    Using methodologies to spot and exploit opportunities in account positioning; managing individual goals that correspond to a territory view; understanding and adopting corporate strategic goals; conducting executive-level discussions with senior staff at assigned accounts; producing a strategic territory plan; articulating customer value proposition and linking solutions to the customer strategy
  10. Independence
    Working without guidance; taking initiative; contributing ideas and suggestions to assist organizational efforts; developing plans of action; setting individual goals and priorities; working remotely; producing sales results when not actively managed

The above mentioned foundational sales skills are as relevant today as in decades past: preparation, needs dialogue, consultative selling and so on. What we need today is for learning and development (L&D) to align organizational initiatives with the selling skills necessary for success in the current dynamic environment


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The selling profession wasn’t always this complicated. Sales used to be agreed to with a handshake. Salespeople would meet prospects or talk over copper-wire landline telephones. They delivered skilled sales pitches, telling customers what they needed to know.

But that was then. The context of selling and the tools of the trade have been forever transformed by technology, globalization and always-on connectivity. The sales cycle, too, has changed, with customers conducting web searches before contacting a salesperson. These changes have clear implications for salespeople and the customer-engagement competencies they must master.

In this complicated environment, sellers of all tenure in the profession must be armed with the competencies to meet customers where they are in their buying processes.

  • Learning and Development (L&D) needs to carefully consider the modalities used in presenting training, matching their methods to the ways sellers can most easily consume learning content. While survey respondents named on-the-job training and video-based learning as the two most common modalities, most companies also utilize additional methods, such as classroom training and e-learning.
  • Sellers interact with customers at every stage of the sales cycle. Although 82 percent of respondents agreed that sellers first interact with customers at the prospecting stage, this research also found that 64 percent of the time, sellers first interact with customers to follow-up on sales. These results suggest that not only is the ability to identify a customer’s stage in the sales cycle a critical competency, but sellers need to leverage the appropriate competencies to move the customer along to the next stage. Accordingly, L&D must align competencies to address the sales skills necessary to navigate customer engagement at any point in the cycle.
  • The biggest challenge to L&D departments is consistency of training across employee functions and across geography. Additionally, implementation of sales training is often hampered by operational complacency, trouble identifying employees with skill gaps, and issues in fostering learner motivation.

Sales training and sales effectiveness have been cornerstones of many company initiatives to grow profitable business, increase revenues, and drive efficiencies – and these elements are no less important today. In order to set their sellers up for success, L&D must help them master engagement strategies that adapt to where customers are along the path to closing a sale so they can participate in shaping opportunities and positioning their offerings accordingly.

References:

  1. Topo HQ: https://blog.topohq.com/sales-skills-18-skills-every-salesperson-master/
  2. Insights Squared: https://www.insightsquared.com/2014/07/top-14-sales-skills-every-inside-sales-rep-must-master/
  3. Richardson: https://www.richardson.com/blog/sales-competencies-alignment-training/
  4. Training Industry: https://trainingindustry.com/articles/sales/ aligning-sales-competencies-in-learning-and-development/

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